New developments are replacing many of the Bowery’s 18th and 19th century low-rise buildings, but residents insist the nabe’s artistic culture is here to stay.
The tiny area is surrounded by SoHo, Chinatown and the Lower East Side and incorporates characteristics of each, but it has also become a hotspot for restaurants, nightlife and art galleries in its own right.
“What I love most about it is its sort of this rock ‘n’ roll, artist-chic vibe you’re only going to find there,” said Joanne Gamel, a licensed broker with the real estate group Citi Habitats.
“[You] have to be willing to feel that bit of grunge” to live on the Bowery, she added.
The artistic atmosphere won’t be easily eradicated by luxury apartment buildings or new storefronts, locals said.
Dilapidated walkups are being torn down or completely renovated, and the new buildings are often boutiques. Side-by-side, 250 Bowery, which opened in 2012, and 260 Bowery, set to open in 2018, are both luxury buildings capped at eight stories.
The street is less of a tourist attraction than the shopping districts in neighboring SoHo, so it isn’t overrun with people or traffic. But despite the grungy feel, the cost of buying a home in the area is rising.
The median sales price on the Bowery in 2015 was $725,000, according to StreetEasy. That was down from the overall Manhattan median sales price of $965,000, and it was a 16% decline from the 2014 Bowery number of $899,000. But 2014 saw a 63% rise from the 2013 median sales price of $550,000.
The median rent on the Bowery in 2015 was $3,000, according to StreetEasy, close to the $3,195 for Manhattan as a whole.
Though local residents are grateful that new developments aren’t casting long shadows, the noise and scaffolding from the constant construction can be a nuisance.
“It’s really annoying for me, my cat and my dog,” said 22-year-old Ariel Greene, adding that she has to wait for a break in the noise to take her canine companion to Sara D. Roosevelt Park, the local greenspace at Chrystie and East Houston streets.
However, the area’s charms make up for its small setbacks. Walking down the Bowery, its prolific art scene is evident in the 15 art galleries that lined the strip, including The Hole, the Bridget Donahue gallery and the New Museum.
Meanwhile, new eateries and shops open regularly, such as Vandal, a restaurant and nightclub that opened on Bowery in January, and Deepcover, a men’s vintage store that came to Allen Street in February.
“The restaurant scene around here is crazy,” said Ronda Kave, owner of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates on Forsyth Street. “It seems like you can’t even walk around here once a week and not see a new place.”
The Bowery runs north to south from East Fourth Street/Cooper Square down to Canal Street. To the east is Allen Street below Houston Street and First Avenue above it, and to the west is Bowery Street.